4 Overcoming barriers: enabling conditions
Tourism can have positive or negative impacts
depending on how it is planned, developed and managed. A set of enabling conditions is required for tourism to become sustainable: to contribute to social and economic development within the carrying capacities of ecosystems and socio-cultural thresholds. This section presents recommendations to create the enabling environment for increased investment in sustainable tourism development, overcoming barriers in the areas of (1) private-sector orientation; (2) destination planning and development; (3) fiscal and government investment policies; (4) finance and investment; (5) local investment generation. Recommendations are based substantially on the policy recommendations of the International Task Force on Sustainable Tourism Devel opment (ITF-STD).15
Tourism market tendencies indicate that the main drivers towards sustainable tourism investment decisions are consumer demand changes; business actions to reduce operational costs and increase competitiveness; coherent policies and regulations for environmental protection; technology improvements; private efforts for environmental and
social responsibility and
natural resource conservation. These are leading the transformation of the industry and determining the returns on investments.16
The systemic characteristic of a
sustainable tourism industry stresses the need to invest more in energy and water efficiency, climate-change mitigation, waste reduction, biodiversity conservation, the reduction of poverty, the conservation of cultural assets and the promotion of linkages with the local economy. The savings and higher returns expected from actions in those areas can simultaneously be invested in new green investment projects, creating a self-enforcing greening dynamic that could enhance competitiveness and strengthen sustainability.
A cross-cutting barrier to greener or more sustainable tourism investment is the lack of understanding and recognition of the value created for companies, communities and destinations from the greening of tourism. The sharing of knowledge, information and experiences among public, private and civil society actors is a necessary first step towards overcoming these barriers.
4.1 Private-sector orientation Tourism is a heterogeneous industry17
(and sometimes thousands) of actors operate in multiple market segments, even within a single country or region. These segments include conventional and mass tourism as well as niche areas such as ecotourism, adventure tourism, rural tourism, community-based tourism, sports fishing, cruise tourism and more recently, health tourism. The principal businesses within the tourism industry are accommodation, tour operation, and transport (land, air, and aquatic). In addition, tourism has diverse linkages through several economic activities, from lodging, entertainment and recreation, to transportation, professional services and advertisement, among others.18
While all can and should benefit in the medium
to long term, greening will require very different actions and investments, and benefit companies in different ways – there is no single strategy or recipe for all to follow. A coherent strategy for green tourism growth must, therefore, cover all segments and activities, and the ways in which they interact.
The tourism industry is dominated by Small and Medium- sized Enterprises (SMEs). Although online travel agencies and large conventional tour operators control an important share of international travel from Europe and North America, tourism destinations are characterised
15. The ITF-STD was comprised of members from UNEP, UNWTO, 18 developed and developing countries, seven other international organisations, seven non- governmental organisations, and seven international business associations. It was an outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, which declared that “fundamental changes in the way societies produce and consume are indispensable for achieving global sustainable development”. The work of the Task Force will continue with its successor, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism (http://www.unep.fr/scp/tourism/activities/partnership/index.htm).
16. Drivers and likely implications of sustainable investments in key strategic areas for tourism (energy, climate change, water, waste, biodiversity, cultural heritage and the local economy) are summarised in Annex 2.
17. Tourism does not fit the standard notion of an “industry” because it is a demand-based concept. It is not the producer who provides the distinguishing characteristics that determine how tourism is classified, but rather the purchaser, i.e. the visitor (OECD 2000).
18 The Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) indicates that “tourism industries comprise all establishments for which the principal activity is a tourism characteristic activity.” Tourism characteristics consumption products and tourism industries are grouped in 12 categories: accommodation for visitors, food and beverages serving activities, railway passenger transport, road passenger transport, water passenger transport, air passenger transport, transport equipment rental, travel agencies and other reservation services activities, cultural activities, sports and recreational activities, retail trade of country-specific tourism characteristic goods, and other country-specific tourism characteristic activities (see UNWTO 2010c).